Author Archives: mimin

3 Impressive Locations for Your Executive Office Suite

If you are currently on the lookout for a prestigious executive office, you’ll be glad to know that the States is filled with them. In fact, the problem isn’t finding a good workspace. It is learning how to spot the ones which can offer you a perfect balance between attentive service and creative freedom.

Whether it is Illinois, California, New York, Pennsylvania, or Montana that calls out to you, there are a few essentials to keep an eye out for. The first is very fast internet speeds. Only the most sophisticated networking technologies are enough to sustain a modern business. The second is flexibility. Negotiable terms are important, as they allow companies to remain agile and ready to respond to market shifts.

This guide to the top cities for ambitious businesses will help you decide where you want to start your search for executive suites and prestigious corporate addresses.

New York City

There’s no getting around the fact that NYC is an expensive place to operate. This is the case for businesses of all shapes and sizes. The market is fiercely competitive and it can often feel like the veritable jungle which people like to call it. On the other hand, there is no more exciting place in the world to launch a company. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

The key to thriving and surviving here is mastering the art of balance. Keeping tight control over your overheads is essential. The line between profit and loss can be very thin in NYC, so look to minimise waste wherever possible by opting for short-term, negotiable leases. Lock in clauses will only tie up your capital and prevent you from changing your office arrangements even if the future of the business depends on it.

Chicago

Or, perhaps a fully equipped executive office in The Windy City would be a better match. In 2014, it made a list of the best places in the US for startup ventures. Like many cities, it is currently experiencing a tech boom, so it is worth a look if you have digital products or services to sell. Chicago is a little less fierce than NYC and friendlier to small businesses.

North Lasalle and North Wacker are both popular areas with tech start-ups. In fact, North Lasalle is particularly celebrated. If you choose an executive office suite here, you’ll be among luxury apartments, riverside boutiques, and some of the most prestigious corporate addresses in the city. Plus, with a short-term lease, you can enjoy all of these benefits while retaining your freedom to up or downgrade when it suits.

Miami

The Southeast Financial Center of Miami is located downtime, close to some of the most high-profile business addresses in the city. It is a great spot for entrepreneurs and SMEs with big plans to attract big investors. In 2009, a UBS study ranked it the fifth richest city in the world for purchasing power. Miami is fast paced, vibrant, and unashamedly indulgent.

The big draw of this city is its popularity with tourists. It welcomes a huge number of visitors, from all over the world, and most are looking to splash out and try new things. For this reason, Miami is friendlier to new businesses than a lot of other US locations. However, entrepreneurs should still take care to minimise their overheads, particularly during those first few years.

Why Serviced Offices Are A Low Maintenance, Low-Risk Option

The USA isn’t always the easiest of countries to find success in business. This vast landscape offers so many jarringly different and distinct cultures that it can be tricky to know which one will fit your brand. This is why careful planning and a flexible approach to working models is a good idea. That way, if you do pick a location and move into a serviced office, you have the freedom to make a change if it turns out that the culture or market aren’t very nurturing.

3 Way to Tell If Your Business Ready To Compete Globally

waThe imagery of a “fish out of water” is often used to describe a situation in which we feel uncomfortable.

When it comes to doing business globally, many businesses are impaired by acting more like a fish within water.

That is because the fish in the water does not ever really think about its environment. It is in water: it is comfortable, the water works for the fish, and the fish is happy in the water. What is there to think about?

But sooner or later, the fish, or in this case our business, wants to move to another environment to court the business there.

As a business, we pack our flippers, don our wetsuit and assume that when we get there, we will again be swimming in water just like the safe environment that we left.

We don’t realize that the water is different. It may be a much larger pool than the fishbowl we swam comfortably in at home. It may be murky water, or a different color of water, or a water filled with predators that want to eat fish.

Worse still, we may arrive wearing flippers and discover that the fish we came to visit and get business from doesn’t swim in water at all. It has abandoned its gills and operates on a land environment.

If we are not ready and able to function in the different environment or culture that we find our foreign business operating in, we will fail.

More and more businesses must compete in a global, multi cultural marketplace and that can mean negotiating new deals in unfamiliar places, setting up branch offices or plants in cultures completely different from our home base, and learning what is important to a whole new group of customers.

If we approach this challenge by assuming that the worlds we will expand to will be identical to the worlds we work in now, there will be disappointment when things do not work out as planned.

Here are three things to think about when considering competing globally:

1. Are you ready for culture shock? When you pack flippers and discover that your foreign business target walks on land, that’s how you experience culture shock. It happens because we all have a naïve tendency to think that everyone sees the world the same way we do and does things the same way we do.

2. Can you suspend your judgment calls? It is difficult for many business people to refrain from judging other people’s beliefs and behaviors when they differ from their own. Instead of judging and assuming that your cultural beliefs and protocols are superior, invest your efforts into developing your listening skills and learning about the other culture to try and understand it.

3. Can you control your responses by questioning yourself? Inevitably, you will come across a culture that is so different from your own that you have an extremely negative response to it. You can’t help it, and it begins to negatively impact your responses. When you sense that is happening, ask yourself if you have taken sufficient time to ask and learn about the country’s cultural values and beliefs that are behind the practices you find disagreeable. Ask how much of your reaction is tied to your cultural beliefs about what is right and wrong. Question whether these practices or values that you are having trouble comprehending are harming you or others. Finally, ask if the people within the culture believe a practice is harmful, or are they okay with the practice or belief.

When you conduct business daily in the same place and the same way, you stop noticing the water. Doing business on a global scale means that you will be called upon to get used to everything from tidal waves to deserts and they will command your attention. Your intercultural communication skills will be put to the test in these new environments.

How you handle these cultural diversity challenges will determine whether your outcome is beneficial or not.

The 5 Simple Rules of Business Etiquette

effThere has always been an unwritten code of socially acceptable norms and standards throughout the history of human civilization. There are just some things you do and other things you don’t do; some things that are appropriate and others that are not. But these unwritten laws don’t just apply to hospitality or fine dining. They are just as valid in the world of trade and commerce.

Unlike other industries however, in the business world, poor business etiquette can have unpleasant and even financially unviable consequences. For example, failing to be sensitive to certain codes of conduct can rub a client the wrong way and jeopardize a vital transaction or contract, resulting in financial loss and damage to credibility. Appropriate professional etiquette is vital to the healthy functioning of companies, not only with other companies but also within the numerous departments and levels of one company. In this article we will look at the importance of business etiquette and identify five key aspects:

    1. The ‘Hello’ Handshake: The handshake is still the ‘platinum’ non-verbal standard for greetings, acknowledgement and gratitude. It is almost universally accepted as a normal gesture of introducing or meeting someone and also for purposes of concurrence or thankfulness. It is considered professional regardless of the situation, race or gender of the person being interacted with.

 

    1. The ‘Politeness’ Policy: We are taught to say “please” and “thank you” as children and those manners really never go away. These coupled with a sincere smile and eye contact form the foundations, of not only corporate etiquette but also social etiquette.

 

    1. The ‘Meeting’ Mandate: Meetings are the ‘pit-stops’ of the corporate world. The way one conducts oneself in a meeting is of primal importance to projecting the right image and setting the right impression to everybody involved. Arriving on time is considered courteous and respectful to the schedules of everybody involved. During the course of the meeting, it is professional to not interrupt someone who is speaking, even if you strongly disagree with his or her view. The temptation is to jump in to voice our opinion but one must control this urge to give everyone a fair and uninterrupted chance to express his or hers.

 

    1. The ‘Written’ Wisdom: Written communication is probably the least likely medium to contain breaches of etiquette but it is still possible. In a world of text messages, tweets and emoticons, a new kind of ‘short-hand’ has evolved consisting of ‘intentional typos’, abbreviations and smiley faces. This is not professionally acceptable in official written correspondence. Letters and emails must be checked for spelling, grammar and typos before sending to the recipient.

 

  1. The ‘Taboo’ Topics: Certain issues are considered private and thereby exempt from being discussed at a professional working environment. While some of these may simply be personal, others can be contentious matters and are better left out of the workplace. These may vary slightly between cultures or countries, but generally religion, politics and sexual orientation are topics best left unopened.

It’s All About Execution, Not Strategy

3eOne of the most ancient, durable and inexpensive building materials has turned, a local Mexican company into the largest global provider of cement, aggregates, ready-mix concrete and specialty concrete products.

As the success of moving from a national, to a multinational, to a global and integrated company is never guaranteed, what have been the key drivers behind this company’s ability to grow coherently, while delivering 20% CAGR EBITDA growth over decades?

1. Define a truly “global-local” strategy

Post the NAFTA agreements with Mexico in the 1990s, the company’s survival depended on expanding abroad. To avoid the risk of hazardous expansion, it first narrowed the scope of its product lines, and next focused on broadening its geographic scope – 50 countries at the latest count.

Global strategies require local adaptation and Cemex became adept at creating multiple strategies to differentiate and take advantage of different economies and markets conditions. In the USA and Europe, Cemex has relied more on product innovation with, for example, the introduction of Insularis, a ready-mix brand that improves the energy efficiency of buildings. In South America, it has focused on providing value beyond supplying its main products, for example, showing a municipality how to structure and manage a project.

2. Go outside and develop a laser-sharp focus on making acquisitions work

Successful M&A deals allow companies to increase scale, extend geographical reach, add capabilities, and diversify their talent base. Cemex’s success as a serial acquirer is the result of the speed and efficiency with which it generates value from an acquisition.

The post-merger integration has been codified (with the manual covering only human resources as thick as a dictionary) while the same team is used for each acquisition. It is staffed with high-potential junior managers who try to strike the right balance between efficient integration and an open mind-set. They analyse the new acquisition to cut costs, and rapidly roll out highly standardized core processes.

As intensive collaboration is one of the key ingredients of a successful integration, Cemex then places circa 20 key people in different parts of the acquired company to train others on the ‘Cemex way’ and identify practices that should be shared across the group.

3. Build distinctive business capabilities

To become a high-value, knowledge intensive solutions provider, the company evolved from an efficient inward-looking company to one more connected with its environment. As cement offers little scope for engaging with customers in a distinctive manner, Cemex decided to invest in building long-term client relationships to gain unique insights into customer evolving needs.

Such insights lead to product innovation, such as low-heat ready mix concrete (preventing premature thermal cracking), as well as a high level of customer responsiveness with, for example, time-based delivery guarantees through Construrama, the largest network of materials outlets in the world. It has also moved away from just selling cement or ready-mix products to offer solutions such as, Patrimonio Hoy, its programme to help low-income families, providing them access to building materials and credit through microfinance; as well as technical and architectural guidance.

Matching its clients’ move towards more environmentally friendly practices, it has developed its own environmental sustainability capabilities: decreasing its fuel use, removing or mitigating pollutants in its materials, or lowering the cost of producing them. It has also innovated with products such as high-strength concretes (reducing the amount of building material required), or self-compacting concrete (reducing energy use during construction, and improving the strength and durability of buildings), etc.

4. Use communities of interest to share knowledge

The biggest challenge for global businesses is to act as one company across its various markets while still running hyper local businesses. To do this, Cemex ensures that all its functions (production, procurement, logistics, marketing, finance, human resources, R&D) have a global orientation and common corporate policies (the Cemex Way) that are enforced around the company, while localising the interactions with customers.

It has also introduced an internal-collaboration platform called Shift, which has helped the company reduce the time needed to introduce new products and make internal process improvements. Shift uses a mix of wikis, blogs, discussion boards, and Web-conferencing tools to help communities of employees around the world collaborate on specific issues. As such, it helps solve local problems with global talent, and store and share the knowledge they are generating.

Shift has been a key element in bringing the best practices of acquired companies, allowing Cemex to continuously increase its knowledge. The alternative fuels and waste-to-energy strategy of one acquired company became a global standard, and today Cemex is at over 28% alternative energy use, the highest among its competitors.

5. Develop Local Talent

Implementing global strategies successfully requires access to a global pool of competent managerial resources. One of the key elements is developing and retaining local leaders with strong functional and industry expertise, who know how to achieve lasting change on the ground, can rise through the ranks, and then move seamlessly across emerging and developing markets.

Teaching the Cemex Way to each of its 44,000 employees worldwide enables the company to transfer people across geographies without them having to learn entirely new ways of doing things. When Cemex’s German unit faced a shortage of engineers, the company could easily transfer some engineers from Spain, Poland and Latvia.

Cemex also dedicates a lot of time and effort to change management, to train new people, talking them through its practices, and helping them assimilate. It not only wants to retain the talent of the companies it acquires but also the way in which they think. Cemex grew to become a successful global company as a result of the way it has integrated people and companies from Colombia, Germany, the U.S., and France, among other geographies, into the way “it thinks”.

Trying to become global, many companies expand into areas where they are unlikely to thrive due to a lack of relevant capabilities, while parameters of their home country often constrain them. They also often lack the consistency, leverage and controlled local diversification that give a company a strong global presence. So what would it take for you to do it the ‘Cemex way’?

Understanding Cultural Differences Between You and New Business Partners

3tIn its own way, culture is the ultimate magic mirror. We view the world, with its colors and customs and modes of behavior, but our culture creates a lens over our eyes that somehow changes it, and when we interpret what we see, it is through the lens of what we know.

Businesses lining up to take full advantage of the global multicultural marketplace need to look past their own cultural lens.

They must find ways to allow their representatives to better interpret the new cultures they are viewing and build bridges between their own cultural lens through which they see the world and the lens through which they act.

We learn that our culture is a set of glasses through which we view the world, and that more we learn and the more we see, the more we realize we all have a different prescription.

When you live by the ocean, for example, a beautiful mountain may attract your attention as an awesome feat of nature, but it bears no special meaning to you. But if you grew up with the Quechua people of the Andes Mountains in South America, you would see the mountain as something with its own special spirit, called an “apu.”

The apu mountain spirit would be something that you feel protected by.

If the person who lived by the ocean was hired by a company to go to the Andes Mountains and build a road through the mountains, you can quickly imagine how they could alienate the local people if they had no idea of the existence of the apu mountain spirit.

This is how cross-cultural problems start for many businesses. They do a superficial survey of the country where they want to do business, summon a person who is trained in the language and agreeable to trying the food, and send them off as if they are prepared for negotiating new partnerships there.

Some parts of culture can be seen, such as the natural environment, and other parts are hidden, like the human values and beliefs.

Too many companies focus only on the obvious. However, the problems and miscommunications are more likely to emerge from those customs and beliefs that are not obvious.

To build bridges into other cultures, it helps to have an excellent guide who can make you aware of the nuances between how you interpret what you see and how your potential new business partner interprets it.

No one cultural training program can ever prepare a person to be aware of all the subtle differences between their own environment and that of another. That is why principles are needed to help build bridges for intercultural communication success. The best way to prepare your staff is to teach them the means to see through different lenses, absorb without judging, and accept without insult.

How to Export Products Overseas

maIs exporting products overseas really so difficult?

Did you know? According to Businessweek, almost 46% of businesses abroad don’t export their products to foreign markets because they don’t know how? Considering the ever growing buying capacity seen in some foreign markets, this is a disappointing fact. But the truth is, if you are well-prepared, motivated, and confident, exporting your products to overseas businesses is not so difficult. Here we will look at 5 elements you may consider to help you get started exporting products.

CONNECTING WITH CHINESE CUSTOMERS

Visiting trade fairs is an excellent way to introduce your business and products to other business abroad. Thousands of business representatives and people attend trade fairs providing excellent opportunities and fast networking. You can meet and talk to many business representatives and immediately begin forming relationships and trading company information. The time and effort in attending these trade fairs, we believe is an investment. The majority of trade fairs in China are held close to large cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing. Thus, if you are worried about the language difference or transportation, you can take comfort in the fact that most business people in these cities will be able to communicate to you in English and transportation options are readily available. Some businessmen take up the practice of booking a flight and hotel to Hong Kong and taking a train to Guangzhou or one of the large cities where the trade fair is held. (As more planes leave and enter Hong Kong, the opportunity to shop for cheaper flights is increased.) Finally, don’t forget to apply for a visa at least one month prior to your departure.

However, if visiting a trade fair is not an option for you and your businesses, a second option is connecting to businesses similar to your own and seeing if they have any recommended connections or leads overseas. It might take time to find some overseas connections this way, however, if you are committed, it’s very possible to find some overseas buyers through networking.

CONTACTING A DISTRIBUTOR

Some companies recommend using a distributor to help with the exporting process. Although this option comes with a price, it can be a good option for businesses new to the exporting process. (It’s also a useful method for companies who may not have the time or people designated to handling the exporting side of your business.) A distributor will know the overseas market well and can offer advice and assistance on customers clearance, packaging and documentations, importing regulations, and export certifications needed (it varies from country to country). Most distributors offer help in many different areas including marketing guidelines, trademark regulations, etc. Even if you just use the help of a distributor to help you get started, the fee you pay the distributor could be an investment.

CHINA’S CCC MARK

To export most products into China, your products must comply with the standards and regulations outlined in China’s Compulsory Certification (CCC). This certification is issued by China’s Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA)

There are 21 product categories that require the CCC mark.

– Electrical wires and cables.
– Switches for circuits, Installation protective and connection devices.
– Low-voltage Electrical Apparatus.
– Small Power motors.
– Electric tools.
– Welding machines.
– Household and similar electrical appliances.
– Audio and video apparatus.
– Information technology equipment.
– Lighting apparatus.
– Telecommunication terminal equipment.
– Motor vehicles and safety parts.
– Motor vehicle tires.
– Safety Glasses.
– Agricultural Machinery.
– Latex Products.
– Medical Devices.
– Fire Fighting Equipment.
– Detectors for Intruder Alarm Systems.
– Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) systems.
– Toys.

To get the CCC mark your company must go through a process. First, there will be an inspection of your factory/company. Second, there will be a follow-up inspection of your enterprise. Finally, your products will be sent to authorization laboratories in China. No matter where your business is located, you must receive the CCC-mark if your products will be marketed in China. If you export products that do not have the CCC-mark, your products will be held-up in customers and perhaps seized or destroyed.

TRADEMARK REGISTRATION

Finally, we strongly recommend you register your trademark in China before you start exporting your products. China’s trademark registry process is based on first-come-first-serve standards. Thus, it’s recommended you to register your trademark before you ship your goods. It’s not required that you register your trademark, however, it’s recommended as this can protect your product and company’s name/reputation.

Is the market for your product flooded with competitors? Every year, increasing numbers of businesses are connecting to the Internet. Your ability to form relationships with businesses and market your products to vastly different markets can offer your company new opportunities you never thought possible. Depending on your product and country of origin, demand for your product could be higher; the demand for foreign products are often greater in other countries. Furthermore, the market for your product may not have so many competitors overseas.

Who Has Control of the World Commodity Markets

efThe ability to control monetary policy and interest rates is among the strongest controls over the commodity markets, financial markets, money supply, and currency underpinnings. The control of currency and the Forex markets directly and indirectly influences and alters the world monetary system. There are several large and powerful groups which lie outside this main power base, and they often have the ability to change the outcome for the better!

There are many theories about true world control and the ability for this to exist in a dynamic manner. As money and assets shift over time from the US and Europe to Asia, South America, and the Middle East, one can observe the drive to control for land, technology, patents, money, water, food, language, equity markets, and interest rates. Interest rates are one of the most transparent ways to spot the difference in policies and opinions.

As commodity prices shift and fortunes rise and fall, there is little chance that money alone dominates the world resources. The power bases of each continent is linked to large quantities of different valuable natural resources. As food and water shortages arise, these areas could demand more importance than energy and mining commodities.

Europe currently has a negative LIBOR. Many countries in Europe have 10 year bond rates which are positive, while Japan and Sweden have negative 10 year bond rates. Several countries including Japan, Switzerland and France have negative rates for short terms. Does the annual Forbes 400 hold the secret to international power, in addition to money and equity.

Forbes Magazine creates a list of the most powerful and important politically people in the world. The list often includes Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. Could they substantially impact the commodity markets in collusion with Goldman Sachs or Koch? It is commonly understood that the power behind the world interest, currency, and commodity markets is wide and scattered. Have recent international oil markets and currency swings moved the base of power behind these markets?

There are reportedly 13 families which run the world including:

Astor
Bundy
Collins
DuPont
Freeman
Kennedy
Li (Chinese)
Onassis
Rockefeller
Rothschild
Russell
Van Duyn
The Merovingian (European Royal Families)

Another source indicates that a different thirteen groups rule the world economy including:

Rothschild (Bauer or Bower) – France
Bruce
Cavendish (Kennedy)
De Medici Royal Family of Italy
Hanover
Hapsburg Royal Family of Austria
Krupp
Plantagenet
Rockefeller
Romanov – Royal Family of Russia
Sinclair (St. Clair)
Warburg (del Banco)
Windsor (Saxe-Coburg-Gothe) -Royal Family of England, UK, and Scotland

These lists contain several of the same large families. It is interesting to note that the power and money of Europe are largely hidden, unreported, or disguised in family trusts, land holdings, and corporate shells. The royal family power and money has existed for over a thousand years. The newly emerging power base in China derived from USA and Canadian acquisitions is bold and unseen in an overall value format per country. Changes in foreign asset ownership challenge long-term balance sheets in this world built on foreign trade.

Can the large fortunes or families dictate interest rates, money supply, commodity prices, and Forex currency? Interest rates have been controlled in NYC through the derivatives markets. The silver market was dominated briefly by the Hunt family. The copper market has been tightly traded several times over the last two decades. It seems possible that the transfer of natural resource control and foreign assets to China may create a new tipping point. The demand for natural resources in product creation gives China a large weapon to use against their trading partners.

What happens as China uses their money to purchase assets rather than financial instruments? The power balance shift is clearly ahead and competes with export tariffs to inflict monetary pain on North America. It has long been thought that Asia could shift its investing into assets rather than financial instruments.

Dr. Rebecca Stone has written over 80 book and product reviews, over 300 articles, 160 LinkedIn posts, and three books found on AMAZON. Her publisher is Speedy Reads. She has a three graduate degrees including a MBA in Finance from the University of St.Thomas in Houston, Texas. Her branded journalism news includes Branding America and Trading Jenga.

Dr Rebecca Stone has three published copyrighted books including The New Drone Juggernaut, Horny Goat Weed, the Magic Chinese Herb, Quantum Orthomolecular Medicine, and Quantum Brain Healing. Her fourth book is a children’s book out later this fall named The Undersea Adventure of Aladin and Alibaba. Her publisher is SpeedyReads.

 

4 Tips for Excellent Business Etiquette in Social Interactions

sdFor the unfamiliar, Jane Austen’s world of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is a complex ecosystem of social appropriateness set within the time context of a Victorian era. Communication is very particular, almost rehearsed and follows a certain set of protocols. Men posture themselves a certain way while every lady dons her best-laced clothes or hand fan. Spoons don’t clink against the cup while stirring, and introductions, regardless of however informal the event, are made as formally as possible. While this sense of English appropriateness might drive some cultures crazy, we all understand the importance of some degree of basic etiquette. There are certain unwritten rules that exist within a social context that require a fair amount of politeness, respect and sensitivity. These protocols for behavior can look different in an informal context but are a little better defined within a business environment. In this article we will examine a few such protocols:

    1. Formal introductions:While casual settings call for an intro that can be as simple as a “Hi”, introductions made within a business or professional environment, require a proper “hello” and a polite handshake. It is also best to introduce someone with their full name. If you are introducing yourself and happen to have a fairly complicated first name, it is considered appropriate to introduce yourself with your proper name and then tell the person what they can call you, be it a shorter form of your name or a nickname. This avoids the awkward scenario of the person forgetting your name because of it’s complexity.

 

    1. Standing up to meet someone: Most eastern cultures naturally understand the importance of standing up to meet or greet someone. Regardless of the cultural context, standing up to be introduced to someone is considered respectful and communicates an appropriate acknowledgement of his or her presence. If you are unable to standup for whatever reason, leaning forward at least indicates an intention that you would stand up if you could.

 

    1. Thank you: After specific meetings such as job interviews, it is always appropriate to send individual thank you cards to the people who were involved in the interview process. The appropriate window of time to do this would be within 24 hours of the meeting. Keep in mind that regular mail can take time and when possible it may be better to thank someone via email. The thank you message itself must be simple – thanking them for their time and consideration of your application. Unnecessary words of groveling endearment are inappropriate and may be taken as an underhanded attempt at gaining favor.

 

  1. Chivalry only when necessary: While it is considered thoroughly proper for a man to open the door or pull a chair for a woman under most circumstances, in the context of a professional setting, like a lunch meeting, this type of chivalry is unnecessary. While most societies consider men and women equal, it is an unspoken rule that this aspect must be accentuated within a professional environment. In such a context, actually displaying chivalry might be considered as awkwardly unprofessional.

Appropriate Behavior of Business Etiquette

2Professional Etiquette is an important facet of working in a business environment. In the workplace, people understand that there needs to exist a certain type of behavioral dynamic that makes it possible to work harmoniously with others by adhering to minimum standards or norms of appropriate interactions. While there are numerous resources on a wide range of subjects that deal with professional etiquette, in this article we are going to look at, what some would consider more trivial aspects of behavior in the workplace, but which are just as important as the others:

    • Let’s begin with cell phones. If a phone call must be taken at the workplace it is considered professional to speak in a low volume and to especially keep the conversation as short as possible. Discussing loudly and boisterously with a friend about the plans for the weekend is not a conversation worthy of attention at the workplace.

 

    • Maintaining a safe ‘phone distance’ is also just as important so as to not make people uncomfortable by being within earshot of a private conversation. A safe distance is generally considered to be anywhere from 10 – 15 feet.

 

    • Put the phone away while at a meeting or a meal. Checking it constantly gives the impression of isolating oneself and not engaging with others around you. This is just another way of being unsocial and is considered rude.

 

    • It is not professional to borrow something from someone’s desk or workspace without getting their permission first.

 

    • There must always be a sense of general cleanliness whether it is doing something work related or not. Even if it entails cleaning up behind oneself at the water fountain or kitchen, it is good to not assume someone else will cleanup behind us.

 

    • Gossiping or slandering at the workplace is never professional. As a general principle it is always better to never talk about someone else regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Personal boundaries are just as important as professional boundaries and apply to one and others around you.

 

    • If a coworker’s behavior is affecting the way you do your own work, make sure to address it directly with the person in a tactful and professional manner. Confrontations and boundaries can be made without stooping to uncivil levels. Making a scene or threatening to complain to the boss is not the right manner in which to handle it.

 

    • Dressing appropriately is a fundamental tenet of business etiquette. Dressing professionally not only helps us to be in the right mindset to work but also allows coworkers around us to be comfortable in our presence. See-through shirts, skin tight clothes and plunging necklines don’t create the right atmosphere for the workplace.

 

  • And lastly, just being nice to people in general goes a long way. While it is important to be professional and formal when necessary, it does not have to be at the expense of basic courtesy or decency. Warm smiles, genuine handshakes and a polite disposition speak volumes of professional etiquette.

Trials and Tribulations With Transfer Pricing

rThe legality of transfer pricing certainly has a grey line. Sure, there needs to be the benefit of companies trading with other foreign companies. Companies need to benefit from the abundance of goods and resources from foreign land. However, when prices are set as to avoid the larger taxes and gain maximum profit, litigation may be mandatory.

Transfer mispricing is defined as trade to related parties at distorted prices to minimize the overall tax bill. Unrelated parties who participate in a trade that generally follows a good transfer pricing through the use of the “Arm’s Length Principle” where a common market price for the item being traded is set. However when a company has related subsidiaries, they may participate in this price manipulation. Let us say there are three related companies: X, Y, and Z. Company X has an abundance of minerals that they will trade to Company Y at a low price. Company Y is located in a tax haven, or a place where the tax rates tend to be low. Company Y then trades to company Z at an artificially high price. Company Z has low profits, however company Y has very high profits. Along with that, they are in a low tax area, therefore their high profits achieve maximum profit as they avoid the burden of heavy taxes (Tax Justice Network). As a result, taxes become skewed.

As an actual example, China faced issues regarding transfer price manipulation. In the article, “How To Train A Toothless Dragon: Finding Room For Improvement In China’s Transfer Pricing Regulations”, fifty-five percent of Chinese companies reported a net loss in 2005. Along with this number, a staggering forty percent of transnational companies held in China were forced to make tax adjustments. The Chinese Government believed this was actually due to price manipulation and sought to eradicate that practice in their country. In order to accomplish this goal of avoiding the mispricing of international trade, the Chinese government enacted the sixth chapter of the Enterprise Income Tax Law of 2008. This increases penalties against companies whose intention is to lower their taxes, requires companies to fill out detailed disclosures of their international trade, and demands an advance pricing agreement where the taxpaying company and the Chinese tax authority agree ahead of time on the price of taxes.

Transfer mispricing is so hard to track because the trades switch from multiple companies in multiple countries that all have different tax rates. A single, uniform tax rate might be ideal in theory in order to ease the tracking and the tax pricing of these trades, but it of course would not work in practice. Some companies need a lower tax rate in order to promote business in their area. Countries, like China in from 1996 to 2000, have to put a lot of effort in order to recover billions of dollars lost through transfer pricing. China during this time period recovered almost 10 billion yuan in this time period.

Transfer pricing also has a burden separate of mispricing. Even if companies comply fully with the Arm’s Length Principle, they are subject to disputes that cause adjustments to their taxable income as well as potential penalties because the tax authorities may not agree with the corporations’ economic method or value chain (Journal of Accountancy). Statistically, a growing number of participants in a survey conducted by Earnest and Young said that their companies faced penalties due to transfer pricing. They note that transfer pricing is among the top of all tax concerns because the company is unsure if they are properly abiding by the rules set by the tax authority.

The article regarding the struggles China has faced with transfer pricing sets up an argument. The argument is instead of focusing on reviews after the fact, focus on stopping transfer mispricing in its tracks while it is occurring. The government, like most other governments, focus on how to respond to the acts of price manipulation. These responses are generally after the mispricing has been done and the investigation generally takes a large amount of time. Often, these investigations are failures as the companies committing these illegalities slip right under the investigators’ fingers. In order to potentially prevent this from happening, the article proposes that China better educates its local tax officials on what price manipulation is. They also suggest a stronger cooperation with other countries in distributing information about transfer price offenders. These strategies can be performed by all countries to reduce and hopefully eventually prevent transfer mispricing.

Transfer pricing is a key issue with both individual companies and entire countries. It is a key driving force that sways a country’s taxable revenue as well as a corporation’s income. The uncertainty of transfer pricing is what makes both companies and countries very precautious. A stronger, more uniform tactic to stop the disputes of transfer pricing can serve as a useful tool as training can be done in multiple areas since they will all share the same method. Overall, trading internationally needs to have more defined regulations.